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  • Recently, the US Department of Justice levied an indictment against three North Korean military hackers for their role in cyber-related crimes (see video below). These included (but not limited to): Targeting of and Cyberattacks on the Entertainment Industry: Such as the destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November 2014 in retaliation for the farcical movie The Interview. Cyber-Enabled Heists from Banks: Attempts to steal more than $1.2 billion from banks in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Malta and Africa. Creation and Deployment of Malicious Cryptocurrency Applications: Development of multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications including Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Union Crypto Trader, and more, which would provide the North Korean hackers a backdoor into the victims’ computers. Spear-Phishing Campaigns: Multiple spear-phishing campaigns that targeted employees of United States cleared defense contractors, energy companies, aerospace companies, technology companies, and more. Ransomware and Cyber-Enabled Extortion: Creation of the destructive WannaCry 2.0 ransomware in May 2017, and the extortion and attempted extortion of victim companies involving the theft of sensitive data and deployment of other ransomware. And it is to that last point that I thought a brief discussion on Ransomware would be warranted. Even Digital Batman’s own father was a victim of a ransomware attack that left him $400 poorer! In 2019 over 187.9 million users were affected by this bold malicious threat to online activities such as web‐surfing, e-commerce, gaming, and more. Put simply, this highly‐disruptive form of Internet‐viral malicious software (malware for short), not only infects your computer but holds all of your most precious files (i.e. photos, documents, apps, etc.) completely hostage—via permanently encrypting such files—until the victim is forced to pay a “ransom” to the criminal entity behind the attack for a decryption key to unlock the files. Usually to the tune of $100 ‐ $400 or more for...
  • January 24, 2020

    Long Live the Browser Wars!

    Google recently announced that it was going to strip cookies from its Chrome web-browser. This is a big deal for a lot of people, namely advertisers. In case you weren’t aware of what a cookie is (not the yummy kind you eat), let Digital Batman tell you. A cookie is a bit of third-party data that gets stored on your system when you access a website. This data is used to track your online activities such as product browsing history, location, etc. Advertisers can then use this data to target ads specifically to what they think you’re interested in. And furthermore, advertisers can “retarget” ads after you as you browse around the Internet from site to site. Ever wonder how a random website you visit seems to know that you were looking at plushy chairs on Amazon? Well, that’s retargeting and that’s powered by cookies. Which leads to a lot of privacy issues that have been debated for as long as the Internet has been around. Therefore, Google is trying to assuage users’ concerns about privacy by eliminating cookies. What will advertisers do? Well, they’ll probably have to come up with more transparent ways to gather your information, with your permission. Now I mention this because it reminds me about how things have both changed and remained the same over the last 25+ years of browsing the Internet. Back in the heyday of the World Wide Web (mid-to-late 1990s), we had a whole battlefield of web browsers all vying for dominance in The Browser Wars! It all started with Netscape Navigator (technically Mosaic in its initial form), invented by Marc Andreessen founder of Netscape. [Digital Batman had done a previous Progressive Pioneers profile on Andreessen back in July.] Navigator was initially released in December of 1994. It sported a simple interface with a few oversized navigation buttons (like Back, Home, and...
  • Mobile communications such as text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Twitter Direct Messaging, SnapChat, Skype, and FaceTime are all seeking to supplant Email these days as the preferred form of digital communications. Not so for business or for professionals where Email still reigns supreme. Email access essentially comes in two forms: Email Software, or Client-based Email – E.g. Microsoft Outlook (costly subscription fees), Mac Mail (comes with Mac OS X), and Thunderbird (free open-source download) to name a few. Cloud Email – E.g. Google Mail (GMail), Yahoo Email, or AOL Email (yes, it still exists)—all free and accessible via a web browser Let’s delve into the key differences between them with an eye on how each form manages Email in their own unique ways. It should be noted that regardless of what method of accessing your Email is used, all Email actually sits on a server somewhere in “The Cloud” and simply waits for you to get it one way or another. Email Software Client-based (meaning: on your computer) Email still has many years of unparalleled usefulness that other services can’t match—the main advantage being security. Say you’re an employee at Company X and check your email like everyone else does everyday. You can rest assured that the Email sitting behind your company’s firewall is as secure as it gets. Even when logging in from home, you are usually using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to establish a secure connection between your laptop and your company’s Email servers. There’s very little chance of your Email being hijacked as you send your messages to your fellow employees or out to your clients. Microsoft Outlook allows a massive amount of Email filtering features, rich text (like HTML) messages, Email organization into shared and group folders across the entire organization, remote Email access via a Web-Outlook interface, and comes in cross-platform versions for Mac OS X and Windows (all versions). And the final advantage is group organization capabilities like employee calendars, scheduling...